The Rangers kicked off the 2015-16 season with a 3-2 victory over the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. After a very lengthy banner-raising ceremony, the Rangers got off to a quick start, scoring three goals in the first period, which were all they would need to win, thanks to some outstanding goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist. For the scoring summary, see the image below courtesy of NHL.com.
-The Rangers got off to a fast start; Oscar Lindberg scored his first career NHL goal just 1:43 into the game. They were able to push the pace and control the game for most of the first period, and probably could have had a few more goals if not for a sharp start by Crawford.
-Lundqvist appeared to be in midseason form tonight. He especially stood tall to hold off Chicago’s strong push in the end of the game.
-The bottom six forwards stood out to me, they pushed the pace, and were strong on the forecheck. Lindberg’s line was on the ice for each of the first two goals. Moore and Stoll were both on the ice during the last minute while protecting the lead. I don’t see any reason to not roll out those same six guys on Friday night in Columbus.
-The top two lines weren’t overly impressive tonight, Kreider Stepan and Hayes had a few good shifts, including the one that led to the goal thanks to an outstanding burst of speed by Kreider, and great awareness by Hayes and Stepan. The top line was quiet, but when your depth guys are scoring the team can manage that lack of production for one game.
-The defense had some trouble getting the puck out of the zone, especially as the game went on and Chicago was more aggressive on the forecheck. There were some sloppy passes, including a bad giveaway by Girardi along the wall that led directly to Chicago’s second goal.
-The Rangers caught a break in the last minute, when the puck was poked into the net by Kane after sitting under Lundqvist’s pad momentarily. The referee waved it off immediately, and after review they determined that the play had concluded, and it was no goal.
-I really liked seeing Yandle go after Shaw in front of the net. Shaw is a force in that position, so for Yandle to go after him, and manage to get him out of the game with a penalty was huge. I am kind of surprised they caused a penalty on Shaw, because after the initial interference he was basically attacked by Yandle, but I liked that Yandle cleared the crease nonetheless.
-Random side note here, but it was really weird seeing Anisimov wearing number 15 for the Hawks. It sure seems like the Hawks are happy to have him this year though, especially because their first goal scorer Artemi Panarin speaks little to no english, so Anisimov has been translating for him.
-The Rangers definitely looked sloppy at points tonight, but they were playing a very good team, and it was the first game of the season, so there isn’t really much to be concerned about. They now have a home and home with an improved Columbus team on back to back nights to worry about.
-Finally, I just wanted to say hi to everyone, as this is my first post for the site. Thanks to Bill for reaching out to me about this opportunity. I’m excited to share my thoughts about the Rangers, and hope to hear yours too.